Executives at Doers Window Manufacturing, based in Tampa with retail locations throughout the state, certainly had a lot to worry about when forecasters started predicting Hurricane Irma last week. The company has manufacturing sites in Tampa and NewSouth Window retail sites in St. Petersburg, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Sarasota and Fort Lauderdale.

DWM Publisher Tara Taffera spoke to Earl Rahn, president, and Amy Rahn, marketing director, to see how the company locations, and most importantly employees, are faring. They also shared some frantic calls from homeowners prior to the storm, and gave some insights into the future of impact windows in Florida.

Taffera: First, tell me how you and your employees are doing.

Earl: We have 155 employees throughout Florida, many of them in Hillsborough County. Irma shifted to the east which saved Bayshore Drive and our St. Petersburg location. This could have been catastrophic. Tampa Bay is breathing a big sigh of relief today. We thought it was going to be a lot worse.

Amy: We haven’t been out yet but Bayshore Boulevard is not flooded right now, and this is good news as it is always prone to flooding.

Earl: I haven’t heard from our Sarasota location yet as he evacuated to Jacksonville. Getting back to Florida is going to be a nightmare.

Taffera: Curfews are still in place so you haven’t even been able to assess the damage, correct?

Earl:  That’s right. Amy and I will be traveling to our locations this week (the two were previously scheduled to attend the GlassBuild America Show in Atlanta). We have a call today to go over everything. We are not sure if we have power in our factory at Tampa.

Amy: One of the things we can’t get over is we have never seen the bay drain like it did.

Taffera: How did you prepare all your locations for Irma?

Earl: We closed from the south to the north. We closed Thursday at noon in Fort Lauderdale, then West Palm Beach. We closed Orlando and Sarasota Friday. We closed the factory at 2, so in all we had eight facilities closed. Fort Lauderdale will open tomorrow, weather and safety permitting. We feel a responsibility to our existing customers.

Taffera: Tell me about those customer calls you got on Friday before the storm.

Amy: We had so many frantic calls from people asking us to come out that day to put in impact windows. One woman was so upset and you could hear her baby crying in the background. And just in the last 24 hours we have had so many inquiries of people who want new windows. They are saying things like, “Get here as soon as you can because we want to move forward with impact windows.”

Earl: I personally called a half dozen people before the storm. I told them we will not be open but we will be there at 8 Tuesday morning. Many said, “Can you please come help us put plywood up?” They wanted window protection.

Taffera: What impact will this have on the impact window market in Florida?

Earl: This storm came right over Lake Wales and Orlando. Those are not impact zones. Orlando is not a mandatory impact zone, but it should be. I think there may be a day in Florida that all windows will be made out of laminated glass. We should be moving in that direction to eliminate problems. We can’t dictate to the state of Florida, but all homeowners can do is be prepared. As a homeowner, I felt secure with my energy-efficient impact windows. Amy and I stood in our living room, which is 60 miles west of Tampa, with all impact windows and doors. You could not hear the storm until it got above 80 mph winds.

Taffera: Thank you for your time and please keep us updated in the days and weeks ahead. We hope all your employees are safe.

Earl and Amy: Thank you, we will.

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